Taiwan-based EVA Airways has dropped plans to buy a 50% stake in Myanmar Airways International (MAI).

Talks ran aground in December, according to EVA deputy senior vice-president Nieh Kuo Wei. "We studied the market and we did want to have co-operation with Myanmar, but after careful study, we still found lots of difficulties, "he says.

EVA as been carrying out due diligence on Yangon-based MAI since October and said in November that it had made a provisional proposal for the take-over. EVA was considering re-equipping the Myanmar carrier's Boeing fleet - which comprises two Boeing 737-400s - with 112-seat British Aerospace 146s from its domestic subsidiary, UNI Airways.

The Taiwanese carrier had studied buying up to half of MAI's shares from its Singaporean joint venture partner, Highsonic Enterprises, part owned by the Brunei Banduri group and holding 60% of MAI. The rest is owned by domestic carrier Myanmar Airways.

MAI as hard-hit by the Asia-Pacific region's economic downturn in July 1997, and by Myanmar's continued political isolation. The airline has cut back dramatically on its Asian services since mid-1998, closing routes to Dhaka, Jakarta and Kunming. Nevertheless, EVA felt initially that there was strong growth potential in the Myanmar market, and that it could provide the manpower, expertise and capital required for expanded operations.

At the same time, EVA is to introduce the first all-cargo service using Boeing MD-11Fs between Taiwan and India from 17 January by rerouting Brussels service via Mumbai. The return flight is to operate as a Brussels-Mumbai-Singapore-Taipei service. According to EVA, the new route is being launched as a result of a new open skies policy towards cargo services in India.

Source: Flight International